NEW ULM — About a dozen people braved the cold Thursday to attend the first in a series of five seminars on evaluating the news at the New Ulm Public Library.
New Ulm Public Library Programming & Technology Services Librarian LeRoy Harris led the first seminar in a five-week series to help people sift out the facts and to make informed decisions in today’s world of 24/7 news coverage.
“Every news source is flawed because nobody is perfect,” Harris said. “Some news sources are flawed on purpose. Some things should not be called news.”
Harris said seminars will cover seven topics, including defining the news, partisanship, news as a business and how it impacts and what is reported, the difference between journalism and community, the First Amendment, perspective and bias and figuring out intent.
“Facts always have context (underlying concepts and information needed to understand an idea or statement),” said Harris.
He listed a number of statements and asked attendees if they could identify them as facts or opinions.
Harris defined news as the dissemination of information from a source to others.
He cited English author H.G. Wells’ novel “The War of the Worlds,” a science fiction novel serialized in 1897 that was adapted in an Oct. 30, 1938 radio broadcast of news bulletins describing a Martian invasion of New Jersey as an example of fake news.
Harris displayed and read online news headlines for Jan. 6, 2022 including CNN, Fox News, ABC and CBS News, MSNBC, the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Miami Herald.
He said the Miami Herald website uploaded slower than some other news sources.
“It tells you more data is needed to bring the (website) up,” said Harris. He added it could mean more of your data is being gathered.
Much of the news sites headlined President Biden’s Jan. 6, 2022 speech on the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Headlines from stories on Biden’s speech about the U.S. Capitol attack included “A dagger at the throat of American democracy” and “How these new Sean Hannity texts expose Trump’s madness.”
“News media want to use your senses to grab your attention,” Harris said.
“There’s a lot of information out there to be presented in different ways, in different perspectives,” added Harris. “It’s important to be an informed citizen. The more information you have, the better you are equipped to engage in a healthy way with news media.”
Harris said there is a lot of divide in social media now. He said it’s important to deal with news in a way in which people respect one another.